10.5 realistic RAM requirements

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
I've been fortunate enough to have been able to work on a number of different Macs recently, and I've noticed that Leopard likes its RAM.



Having spent a lot of time evaluating the machines, I've concluded that 4GB is a useful minimum for Leopard.



Mac mini

With the bundled 1GB the Mac mini struggled to play the 10.5 intro movie. The fans kicked in almost immediately and the animation was jerky. This was when I knew I was in for a choppy ride. 2GB didn't help matters much, but 4GB (1.5GB per matched stick) seemed to wake the machine up a bit and it delivered a respectable performance.



MacBook MacBook Pro

You can get away with 2GB, but it isn't until you've worked with 4GB and gone back to 2GB that you realise that 2GB is a actually a minimum and you aren't doing yourself any favours by not upgrading.



MacBook Air

The MacBook Air struggled out the box, even with simple applications like iCal. Almost every click that you make results in a small delay. This is worrying considering that the MacBook Air can't be upgraded in anyway.



Mac Pro

The new Mac Pro, seems to get away with 2GB, but I think a lot of that is down to the fact that it has so much processing muscle and virtual memory is aided by the likes of RAID 0 etc. With 4GB of RAM I didn't actually see that much of an increase in performance. If anything, I suspect the system became unstable (and that was using Apple RAM).



iMac

The iMac, like the MacBook Pro, is fairly comfortable with 2GB. But again, it isn't until you work with 4GB for a while, and then go back to 2GB that you start to notice that it's a false economy to settle for 2GB.



This obviously has fairly fundamental ramifications. Until recently, the iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro were unable to support 4GB, so anybody running 10.5 on a white iMac or earlier generation of the MacBooks will never experience 10.5 as it was meant to be experienced.



Whilst the Mac mini can pull it off with 4GB, the MacBook Air will only ever be capable of providing an uncrippled 10.5 experience ? which is rather worrying considering its price tag. Even scrolling through an 8MB PDF file, the MacBook Air was struggling to keep up, with its fan ramping up to full speed before long.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    Interesting. Did you perform the same tasks on all the Macs and what type of tasks did you perform?
  • Reply 2 of 12
    ksecksec Posts: 1,551member
    Ram are dirt cheap but buy Ram from Apple is still very very expensive.
  • Reply 3 of 12
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    My MBP purrs on 2gbs of RAM on 10.5.2.



    The only time I get page outs are when I use Handbrake. Then its only occasionally.



    2 gbs seems to be the sweet spot. Why would the machine make a difference in how much RAM is needed? I would think 2 gbs is plenty for Mac mini and MBA.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by troberts View Post


    Interesting. Did you perform the same tasks on all the Macs and what type of tasks did you perform?



    Yes I did. Tasks included running the bundled 'everyday' apps including Font Book, iCal, iChat, Safari, TextEdit, iTunes and Mail. I pretty much these apps running at all times, as well as iDisk publishing Calendars and syncing to .mac.



    Then on top of that I was running Adobe CS3: Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.



    Even without CS3 running, there was a noticable difference in the responsiveness of the 'everyday' apps when comparing 2GB and 4GB. With CS3 running, the difference was unmissable.



    The only machine that was different was the MacBook Air that struggled so much with the 'everyday' apps that there was no point trying to install and run CS3.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Messiah View Post


    The only machine that was different was the MacBook Air that struggled so much with the 'everyday' apps that there was no point trying to install and run CS3.



    I hope the MacBook Air you evaluated is the exception to the rule. Hopefully, it will get the option of 4GB RAM when it's updated.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    My MBP purrs on 2gbs of RAM on 10.5.2.



    The only time I get page outs are when I use Handbrake. Then its only occasionally.



    2 gbs seems to be the sweet spot. Why would the machine make a difference in how much RAM is needed? I would think 2 gbs is plenty for Mac mini and MBA.



    I think all the machines really need 4GB in order to function properly (at their realistic optimum). I think the difference is how the machine cope when they don't have the full 4GB.



    A Mac Pro will handle the shortage much better because it has eight processor cores, a fast desktop drive and a dedicated graphics card. A Mac mini will suffer because it only has two cores, a laptop drive and an integrated card. Hence the Mac Pro is able to continue ploughing through where the Mac mini runs out of breath.



    With regards to you MBP, you'll probably be fine with 2GB. But like I say, if you install 4GB and work with it for a while, and then go back to 2GB, you'll notice that the 4GB configuration is just that little bit snappier across the board. If you never install the 4GB you won't know what you're missing.



    Given that the majority of Apple machines use the same 667MHz SO-DIMMs, it really isn't worth skimping on the RAM given todays low prices (IMHO).
  • Reply 7 of 12
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by troberts View Post


    I hope the MacBook Air you evaluated is the exception to the rule. Hopefully, it will get the option of 4GB RAM when it's updated.



    I was actually really surprised at just how badly the MBA performed. I didn't expect it to be a screamer by any means, but I did expect it to be able to handle the OS and bundled apps happily.



    When you're sitting in the Finder with no apps open, and you click on the displays icon in the Menu bar, you really don't expect a second or two delay before the drop-down appears.



    Likewise, I would expect a £1,200 laptop to be able to handle a 8MB PDF file without the fans going at full-tilt. I'm starting to wonder just how productive you can be with a MBA when it struggles with even the simplest of tasks?
  • Reply 8 of 12
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    Not so sure M - I mean yes, more Ram the better but this pb is purring along fine with Leopard using 1.5 gig.



    Using fcp almost exclusively with it, photoshop running at the same time. Can be capturing into fcp, have PS open, Safari running and surf the net no problems at all.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RobM View Post


    Not so sure M - I mean yes, more Ram the better but this pb is purring along fine with Leopard using 1.5 gig.



    Using fcp almost exclusively with it, photoshop running at the same time. Can be capturing into fcp, have PS open, Safari running and surf the net no problems at all.



    Cool.



    Have you tried 4GB in it?
  • Reply 10 of 12
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Messiah View Post


    Cool.



    Have you tried 4GB in it?





    Point taken - but not worth the money imo for this machine.

    I'll pick up a mbp prolly next release - and then give it a go with 4
  • Reply 11 of 12
    sc_marktsc_markt Posts: 1,393member
    I've got a MBP 2.16GHz with the stock 1GB of ram and it seems to be working fine to me.



    I'm curious if anybody else with the same MBP model has increased the ram and noticed a difference?
  • Reply 12 of 12
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    It really depends on what you're doing with your machine as to whether you'll benefit or not.



    When the iMacs were updated I bought my wife a 20" and threw an extra gig in it so she has 2 - the machine is only used for the net - overkill for her but the Ram was cheap so why not ? (I forget what it was when I bought the pb - around NZ$500 for a gig I think - hell it may have been more at the time).
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